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The Media and Presidential Debates

October 22, 1988

The second presidential debate is over and maybe it's just as well. We learned very little about what each candidate would actually do if elected. No issue of substance was discussed in any detail. Instead, we were treated to the photogenic qualities of each man. We had a choice between expansive gestures and tight chopping hand motions. I do have a preference between the two men, but as far as television goes, the voters will have to choose between a whiner and a droner.

Television is not the only culprit. So is the press. Otherwise, how to explain the fact that an important article like "Separating Fact From Fiction in Debate Salvos" (Part I, Oct. 15) was relegated to page 18 of the news section? Why was it not on the front page where everybody would see it? Not everybody, I fear, plows through the entire section to discover gems like this. According to the article, Bush flatly misstated his positions and actions on important questions. Isn't this important?

This has to be one of the most unsatisfying, trivial presidential campaigns within anybody's memory. Most of the fault should be laid at the door of the voters, who do not seem to want to hear anything but banalities. Wouldn't you think, however, that the media would want to put us straight on so much of the candidates' empty rhetoric? As it is, the candidates can present themselves any way they please and the press will not step in vigorously with a timely "Hey, wait a minute, Mr. So-and-So, those are not the facts. Five minutes ago you were on the other side of the fence!"

JOAN PALEVSKY

Los Angeles

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